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4/8/17

Christianity: should Christians support war - don't let anyone fool you - the answer is NO

There is no justification for any so-called "just war"

We find many Christians around the world today who are wrestling over the concept of a "good or bad war" just as they do in their daily lives when it comes to making choices between good and evil 

In the early Old Testament times war was often seen as a holy war, a conflict initiated and led by God. Very much so as still professed by today's radical Islamists. Such a war was declared by God, Himself (Exodus 17:16; Numbers 31:1-3, 1 Samuel 15:1-3), and every facet of war had religious significance. Sacrificial rites were performed to ensure God's continued support (1 Samuel 7:8-10; 13:9).

The sacred ark of the covenant, symbolizing the presence of God, was often taken into battle (1 Samuel 4:3).

Later in Israel's history, the prophets began to see the terror of war as God's judgment against his people for their sins, and the glory of war faded (Habakkuk 1:5-11, Jeremiah 21:3-7). Israel began to look to the day when the endless cycle of war would be broken:

The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. (NIV, Isaiah 2:3-4)

In the New Testament, war is universally seen as evil and Jesus emphasized peace instead. He advised us to avoid retaliation and revenge and to extend our love even to our enemies.

"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. (NIV, Matthew 5:38-45).

The apostle Paul and other New testament writers echoed Jesus' sentiment and expanded on it.

"Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men". Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. "But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (NAS, Romans 12:17-21)

Consequently, whatever a politician or even some pastors might tell you: there is no such thing as a good cause for a "just war".

Christians  (including President Trump and his VP Pence) who might feel the urge to wage war for what they might instinctively consider to be a so-called "just cause" should be reminded that Jesus said : "Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword." (NAS, Matthew 26:52-53) and that  while many of Jesus' apostles and many other of his followers were also martyred for their faith, but never used violence to resist their fate.

Reading the above might also shine quite a different light on the famous and still very popular military song "Onward, Christian Soldiers", a 19th-century English hymn. The words were written by Sabine Baring-Gould in 1865, and the music was composed by Arthur Sullivan in 1871 . The words were even quoted by British PM Churchill and US Given Roosevelt at the end of the second world war. 

Given that the song made a strong connections between war and Christianity the hymn was omitted from both the 1990 and 2013 hymnals of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

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